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Arrested Allegheny County officer may not return

| Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2013, 12:02 a.m.

Allegheny County officials said Monday an internal investigation is under way to determine whether a police officer who was arrested on drug and child endangerment charges will be allowed to return to the force.

County Officer Zena Jenkins, 48, was arrested on Friday by city police officers who went to her Perry North home when she reported that her son stole her Cadillac Escalade.

“Because of the circumstances surrounding this, it would be inappropriate for us to comment ... particularly in light of the investigations currently going on,” said Amie Downs, spokeswoman for county Executive Rich Fitzgerald.

Downs said that Jenkins is “currently on vacation” and that her return is under review pending internal investigation.

County payroll records show Jenkins has been on the force since 1988 and is paid $37.29 an hour. Jenkins, who was released from the Allegheny County Jail on a non-monetary bond, could not be reached for comment Monday.

At the time she was arrested, Jenkins was classified as a “light duty” employee because of a work-related injury.

County officials declined to say how many hours a week she was required to work or where she performed her duties. Downs said police officers on light duty are supervised in the same way as other officers. District Attorney's Office spokesman Mike Manko said it was too early to tell whether any of the cases Jenkins handled will be compromised.

According to a criminal complaint, police who went to Jenkins' home at about 6 p.m. Friday said she “appeared very lethargic, had slurred speech and an unsteady (gait).”

The officers smelled a strong odor of marijuana in the house and saw drug paraphernalia and a partially burned marijuana “blunt.” A blunt is a cigar in which the tobacco has been replaced with marijuana.

When asked about the items, Jenkins told officer that she “couldn't control her children,” according to a criminal complaint.

In addition to drug charges, police accused Jenkins of child endangerment because of the “filthy” conditions in her home: overflowing garbage cans, rotting food and dirty laundry on electric wires.

Allegheny County Children, Youth and Family allowed Jenkins' daughter to take custody of her younger brothers, police said.

Police on Friday issued an arrest warrant for Jenkins' son, Daniel Andre Jenkins, 20, who is accused of stealing his mother's Escalade, which was later recovered in the West End.

Investigators want to know if the Cadillac is the one driven by a man who pulled alongside another SUV on the Parkway East shortly after 3:30 a.m. Friday and fired multiple shots into the vehicle, wounding the 32-year-old driver and her 29-year-old male passenger.

The victims, whose names were not released, are in stable condition.

Tony LaRussa is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7987 or tlarussa@tribweb.com.

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